Monday, 24 September, 2018

Indonesia quake: Race against time to save buried survivors

Cracked temple Buildings have been destroyed all over the island
Faye Gross | 08 August, 2018, 17:30

Maple Ridge residents Jen Montgomery-Lay, her husband and their two kids were on the island of Lombok when the 7.0-magnitude quake struck, flattening buildings and collapsing bridges.

The family spoke with The Telegraph on Monday evening as they waited to board a flight to Bali from the airport in Mataram where hundreds of tourists have taken shelter.

About 90 personnel from the military, police and national search and rescue agency swarmed around the flattened building Tuesday, using cutting equipment to pry apart the tangled debris.

The government on Tuesday "expressed its condolences" to the government and the people of Indonesia following the loss of lives and injuries suffered after a massive quake.

"We slept in a bungalow until another quake hit us at midnight and then we moved to the beach", she said.

However, the social network told news site Motherboard: "We regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally". Food, medical supplies, tarps and clothes are also urgently needed.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of tourists from the Gili Islands - three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands off the northwest coast of Lombok - has finished, officials said.

The global charity Oxfam said drinking water was scarce because of a recent spell of extremely dry weather in Lombok.

'We have tried to get on many boats.

Tremors continued to rattle the island, including a 5.5 magnitude one around 2 am on Monday.

The couple and their family, who have been spending time in the USA over the summer, were said to have landed in the popular tourist destination on Saturday, the day of the quake.

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"The corpses are starting to smell and we believe some people buried are still alive - that's why it's a critical time", Nugroho said.

Lombok had already been hit by a 6.4 magnitude natural disaster on Jul 29 that killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano. "All the locals were frantically running and screaming, putting on lifejackets".

"There's a massive rush of people wanting to get out of Lombok because of unfounded rumours, such as of a tsunami", Muhammad Faozal, the head of the tourism agency in West Nusa Tenggara province, told AFP.

Lombok is one of 10 new destinations, dubbed "the new Balis", that Indonesia is developing to help attain Widodo's ambitious target of boosting tourism revenues to 8% of GDP and attracting 20 million foreign tourists a year.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "The flight was just very bad".

Nugroho said authorities deployed ships to evacuate people from the three islands.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres today expressed sadness at the "devastating" loss of life, injuries and damage caused in the magnitude 7 natural disaster that hit Indonesia's East Lombok over the weekend.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for its pristine beaches and mountains.

Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, is regularly hit by earthquakes.

The Bali and Lombok airports have remained open. In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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